Minority as well as women owned businesses in Wisconsin can get financing from a wide variety of free grant or loan programs. There are banks, credit unions, corporation, non-profits, and even government funds available each and every month. The goal is to help small businesses get the capital they need, with a focus on Black, women, and minority owned companies. Find a list of grants and loans below in Wisconsin that may be near you, including in Milwaukee, Madison, and other cities.
The funds will be for women owned companies. There are also loan and free grant programs for Black, Latino, or Asian owned companies as well as LGBTQ companies. The financial assistance, when combined with mentoring support, can help a business either start or grow.
The list of funds below will be updated daily. It is the most recent list of loan as well as grant programs as they “open up” for minority as well as women owned companies. Note some funds focus on start-ups or micro-businesses as well.
Free grants as well as loans in Wisconsin
While there may be other sources of funds out there, the loans and free grants below are aimed at helping disadvantaged businesses. This may be a Black owned company or small women owned business. There are also funds for LGBTQ companies, Asians, Latino businesses, and other minority owned small to medium sized businesses.
Year round small business assistance
Urban League of Greater Madison is assisting businesses in the city and Dane County. Among the programs available is a resolving loan fund – this means once the cash has been paid back by one borrower the funds can be issued to another minority owned small business. The focus of the financial aid is on the south side of Madison, and the funds are offered in partnership with the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact. Up to $20,000 can be loaned, and the Urban League also gives other support to minority companies. Learn more. https://ulgm.org/
A program known as Upstart from WARF provides women owned companies and BIPOC (“Person of Color”) businesses with support. Most of the help is mentoring or free coaching, but there are referrals to grants and financial help. Get assistance with social media, business plan creation, raising capital, finding loans, hiring, and so much more. Learn more. https://www.warf.org/programs-events/innovators-investors-and-researchers/upstart/
WWBIC provides a few types of small business help, entrepreneurship assistance, and other resources. Regardless of gender, ethnicity, or age, WWBIC (also known as Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation) can help men, women, minorities and others get financial help in the form of loans, credit, or grants. Counselors help businesses apply for funding. There is also one on one free business coaching, financial literacy and education, workshops to help females, rural, and Black business owners get the advice they need, business plan help and other programs. Assistance, including free grants, is available statewide from the office at 1533 N Rivercenter Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53212 or remotely. Call (414) 263-5450. Or more details here. https://www.wwbic.com/
Minority and female owned businesses in the city of La Crosse Wisconsin can get grants of up to $5,000. The city Planning and Development Department. The funds are part of the Minority Owned Business Assistance Grant Program. The money is for both (1) existing businesses as well as (2) startups that need capital and that have a solid business plan. All minorities, including Hispanics, African-Americans, Asian Americans and others can apply. Grants can pay for equipment, legal goods, inventory, technology and other bills. Read more here. https://www.cityoflacrosse.org/your-government/departments/planning-economic-development/moba-grant
September – October 2020
The Milwaukee Business Restart Program is providing small businesses, including minority, veteran, and female run, with free grants. Up to $10 million dollars will be distributed. The applying company needs to have under 20 employees 9and even sole-proprietors can apply) and limited revenue. if a small business/start up with zero dollars in revenue can apply for a grant. Partners include Latino Entrepreneurial Network, the Milwaukee Urban League, Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation and the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation, with a focus on Black, Latino, LGBTQ and female businesses in the city. Read more. https://city.milwaukee.gov/DCD/BusinessToolbox/COVID-19-Resources/Restart.htm
Waukesha County and WWBIC to Launch Small Business Business Assistance Grants Program. Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp – WWBIC will be handling the application and distribution of the free grants, as well as follow up business coaching and mentorship opportunities for women, Black owned and minority start ups or micro businesses. Funds will be targeted to micro enterprise (5 or less employees) businesses located in Waukesha County. Applications are here https://www.wwbic.com/business-lending/loans/, or read a news release. https://urbanmilwaukee.com/pressrelease/waukesha-county-and-wwbic-to-launch-small-business-covid-19-business-assistance-grants-program/
$30M Milwaukee investment pool targets businesses, projects by people of color. Details on the foundation and the grant program. https://www.greatermilwaukeefoundation.org/ or read more information here, https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/07/29/milwaukee-investment-pool-for-business-targets.html
By Jon McNamara